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Trending: Wings can't overcome Leafs' offensive depth

Larkin, Bertuzzi and Nielsen get goals for Detroit

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have some of the best offensive depth in the league and it showed Saturday night.

Although outplayed for stretches of the game, the Leafs came back to score a late third-period goal to earn a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings at Air Canada Centre.

The Wings fell to 27-37-11 overall and 13-22-3 on the road while the Leafs improved to 45-23-7 overall and 26-8-2 at home.

Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Frans Nielsen scored for Detroit while Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Brown, William Nylander and Nazem Kadri scored for Toronto.

Darren Helm fought Zach Hyman in the first period, the first NHL fight for Helm and the first in the regular season for Hyman.

1. Dylan Larkin: Larkin has far surpassed his career best point total in his third NHL season. His rookie year, he had 23 goals and 22 assists in 80 games, playing primarily on captain Henrik Zetterberg's wing. Toward the last part of his second season, Larkin shifted permanently to center, his natural position. That evolution has continued this season as Larkin has worked diligently to make his line mates better. Larkin's 42 assists lead the Wings and are more assists than he had in his first two seasons combined (37). The only thing Larkin has not done as much is score goals. Two games ago, Larkin scored twice against the Philadelphia Flyers. At 4:32 of the second, Larkin split defenders Dermott and Roman Polak and beat Andersen glove-side for his 12th goal of the season. Anthony Mantha got the only assist on the goal. Larkin played 19:54, the most of any Detroit forward, and finished with five shots.

Quotable: "I think we're young right now. Guys are figuring out how to score, including myself. Everyone can improve on areas of the game. Everyone takes a little step in the right direction and I think next year, we can be like New Jersey. You look at them, they're in a playoff spot, they've got some good young players. Everyone seemed to take a step from last year to this year." - Larkin

Quotable II: "It's good to see guys like Bert and Larks score. Larks has been playing real good for a while and hasn't necessarily gotten rewarded with offense. In two of the last three, I think he's had goals. I think he's been playing real good hockey. it was good for Bert to score, I think he's been playing excellent hockey. I think from that aspect, it's been good. I thought we did tons of good stuff. I thought there were large moments of the game we carried the play. Now they certainly had chances and Jimmy was excellent when they had chances. We got to limit some of those. Unfortunate bounce on the third goal, it just hops over Jensen's stick, there's nothing wrong he did, he didn't stickhandle too much, he had it and it just bounced over. We can't give up that fourth rush, that's not a rush you want to give up. We got to keep grinding here." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill

2. Tyler Bertuzzi: There's no question that Bertuzzi has had his chances. But the young forward has been a little snakebit while playing on the top line with Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist. Bertuzzi finally capitalized at 9:37 of the second period. Zetterberg managed to keep the puck in the zone and defenseman Danny DeKeyser took the shot, which Bertuzzi perfectly deflected past Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. It was Bertuzzi's third goal of the season and first in 28 games. His last goal came Jan. 22 in New Jersey.

Quotable: "We had a good cycle going. I went low to high. It's what we always work on, and quick shots from the point. I was lucky to get a stick on it." - Bertuzzi

Quotable II: "I think Tyler's been playing excellent. He wins tons of stick battles,, tons and tons of stick battles, finds a way to have the puck on his stick tons. Real impressed with him and his game. For him to get offense there is positive." - Blashill

Quotable III: "That's the type of player he is, greasy. He's out there, he's got the hair flying around, cleaning the ice sometimes but he's a hard worker, he's got a great hockey IQ. He finds ways to get it done." - Jimmy Howard

3. Jimmy Howard: Howard did beat the Maple Leafs earlier this season, 3-1 at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 15. Howard was tested quite a bit by Toronto's talented offense. Midway through the first period, Bertuzzi was off for interference and then Darren Helm was called for delay of game, giving the Leafs a 36-second 5-on-3. In all, Howard made five saves while the Wings killed the penalties. At 14:30 of the first, Kasperi Kapanen got a perfect pass from Tyler Bozak and he was able to put the puck quickly into the empty side of the net. Howard stoned Andreas Johnsson at 5:47 of the second. Connor Brown tied the game 2-2 at 14:19 of the second when he deflected Travis Dermott's shot from the left point. At 7:27 of the third, the puck jumped over Nick Jensen's stick and Nylander and Auston Matthews had a quick give-and-go that results in Nylander's 17th goal of the season, tying the game 3-3. At 12:34 of the third, Patrick Marleau delivered a sauce pass to Kadri and Kadri didn't miss on his 29th goal of the season.

Quotable: "I thought once again we played hard. But just the same thing every night. It's like Groundhog Day for us right now. They're deep. They've got their forwards that can definitely fly. But I thought we did a good job for the most part tonight limiting their opportunities, limiting their chances. They're just a dangerous team." - Howard

Quotable II: "Overall we did a lot of good things. I thought the PK played real well. Howie was good. We got over 40 shots against a defensive-minded team. We got a lot of pucks through. There was a few turnovers that cost us, or odd-man rushes I would say more, too. We've seen it before." - Zetterberg

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